Friday, October 24, 2008

Thoughts on Martial Arts, -and it's "teachers"

I would say that any true Martial Art is, in its most effective element, minimalism in action.

True Martial Arts is about making the fighter's body act in such a trained
way that the results from it are effortless and streamlined. It takes long time and much experience for a fighter to get to a point where it all comes together.
The experienced and well-trained fighter only does what he
needs to do to solve the situation at hand. Nothing more, nothing less.
I think it starts with the fighter being willing to completely strip down and cut off the things he doesn't need. It goes back to the fundamentals(that he hopefully has been taught), to
strip away unnecessary movements and motions to become more effective in
any situation in a fight.
By studying other teachers and trainers, I have seen and learned that
very few think of this, or are even aware of it. They habitually let their students and fighters get away with bad habits, such as walking around unnecessarily, taking two or three extra steps, or jumping in place to find their balance after an executed technique.
To me, that shows a lack of understanding of efficiency and of how energy levels can be depleted, maintained, or enhanced. To put it in other words: the way I see it, the knowledge of how to teach somebody to throw a good left hook has not been lost, but, knowledge of the fundamental principles to make it an effective left hook has gone away and been replaced with some nonsense way of trying to "look good".
These attempts to look the part, but not really being able to back it up too many times just leads to the fighter getting tired.
A fighter needs to be very efficient with his movement, so it wont lead to energy depletion; he always have something "left in the tank" if the need for an extra surge would arise. The impatience of clients and students in a Martial Arts gym are big factors of course in what is being taught; but more than often, the ignorance of the trainer shines through in the skill level if his students. To me, I see so much sloppiness being taught that I feel it hurts me as a trainer to be compared to something like that. There is just so much ignorance out there in the world of boxing and martial arts. This can be illustrated by watching old boxing tapes chronologically from the 40's and 50's, up until today. One can make the note that the quality of the technical aspects of the art has declined. I feel that boxing really hit its peak, in both terms of technique and conditioning in the late 70s, to the late 80's. Then somehow it changed. The fighters got fatter, slower, bigger, lazier, less skilled, -and in the beginning of this century, size was what the promoters were selling and promoting; not skill. There were of course exceptions, but the main trend in how the sport was handled was heading in that direction. Knowledge and skill are not longer the emphasis of the sport. The trainers of the old era were starting to disappear, and only a very few had the knowledge to pass it on to the next(our) generation. The new generation of trainers does not seem to be able to get to the core of the art. They are more of conditioning coaches than actual teachers. But lucky for the fans, there are a few real "old-school" guys out there, and I pray for that they hopefully will be acknowledged an thanked for the very rare knowledge they are passing on. Also on this note, it is quite safe to say that the culture around the phenomenon of MMA is not really welcoming beautiful technicians; but rather size, strength, and brutality is what is being promoted. If you ask me, it's quite sad and represents the total opposite of what a True Martial Art is about.

Being part of Legends, a top class Mixed Martial Arts Training
Center, I hope to show people the "other" side of the coin, the non brutal, and in my eyes, very beautiful side of the sport. Hopefully after reading this; as a student in my class or at any other school, I hope that you will think critically about what your trainer is telling you to do. Ask yourself; Does it make sense? WHY am I doing it this way?, and, can my trainer explain WHY?